Why are regular health checks so important for your pet?
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Why are regular health checks so important for your pet?

Just like humans, pets need regular health checks to help keep them as fit and healthy as possible. Read on to find out why it’s good for your pet to have a regular health MOT and how often these should take place.

My pet has a health check at vaccination time, isn’t that enough?

When your pet has their annual booster vaccinations, they will also be given a health check by the vet. This will involve a general top to tail examination and the vet may ask you some questions to find out if there’s anything you’re worried about or if there are any changes that you have noticed. These changes can include diet, going to the toilet, sleeping patterns, mood changes and any lumps or bumps

An annual trip to the vet may not be enough to pick up on changes which is why a twice-yearly check-up is a good idea.

What may need investigating further?

If you or the vet notice some changes in your pet, these may require further investigation. Examples include:

  • Diet – if your pet seems more hungry, it could indicate a thyroid problem.
  • Toilet – there could be a range of reasons why your pet is peeing or pooing less or more often, which may need to be investigated.
  • Sleeping patterns – this could be the start of cognitive dysfunction syndrome (an animal version of Alzheimer’s).
  • Mood changes – this could indicate pain somewhere in the body, or even a thyroid problem.
  • Lumps and bumps – these could be nothing to worry about, such as a fatty lump (called a lipoma) or they may be something that needs further investigation, such as cancer.
  • Skin and coat conditions – changes to your pet’s skin or coat could be a sign of fleas, mites or an allergy.

Isn’t it just to get more money?

No. Vets, as professionals, need to be paid for their service, but their number one priority is the animal’s health. Most vet practices offer a pet health plan to help you budget for and spread the cost of your pet’s routine health care, which includes regular health checks. Ask your vet if this is available to you.

What happens if the vet finds something is wrong with your pet?

There will need to be more investigations to find out the cause of the problem. This may include blood tests, x-rays, urine and stool samples, ultrasound, skin scrapes, biopsies and, in some cases, MRI scans.

The good news is that in most cases the earlier a condition is identified, the easier it is to treat. Regular health checks can help with early diagnosis.

So how often should I take my pet for a health check?

Most vets will encourage you to take your pet for a health check twice a year. This will often be booked to coincide with your pet’s annual vaccinations and when you are due to get a prescription renewal for flea and worm treatment.

However, you may need to attend more frequently - for example, if your pet is overweight and needs to have regular weigh-ins to chart their weight loss progress. Weight check-ins are often run by veterinary nurses and are free.

Having your pet checked over regularly is of great benefit as it will help to keep your pet in good health. It also increases the chances of a positive prognosis if conditions are picked up early.

If you have any concerns about your pet’s health, don’t leave it until your six-monthly check-up - make an appointment sooner.

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